There is no need to worry about 20-year old Victoria Azarenka, who grunts for release. Do not bother that in her four years on the tour, she has not won a Grand Slam Event. Not to fear. The pretty, queen-to-be has succeeded at every level since joining the IT Tour in 2003.
Most would say, Victoria has it all. Her many international fans are just waiting for that one big signature win in a major event. She has come close to a breakthrough win on three occasions. Her 2009 quarterfinal finish at Paris, her quarterfinal loss at Wimbledon 2009 and this year’s quarterfinal loss in Melbourne were tough, high profile losses. It seems Victoria has everything she needs on the court except that one necessary intangible, the ability to closeout clutch matches.
She has earned the reputation as the player that can beat anyone – before the final round. But, then again, she is just 20 years old, in great shape and easing to the eyes as well.
Despite some high-profile losses, Victoria has earned five tour championships and has earned more money than her 19-year old Danish rival and world’s fourth ranked player Caroline Wozniacki. Azarenka is certainly playing some of the best tennis on the tour this season and looms as a force to be reckoned with at Indian Wells later this month.
In her very first year on the tour, the blonde bomber played in all four majors, gaining the 3rd round at the U.S. Open. Entering 2007, tour players were not sure what to make of the loudest competitor. Victoria’s characteristic “grunt” as she struck the ball gained media, fan and player attention. At 17 years old the 5’9” beauty found herself squarely in the middle of a continuing tour controversy.
The controversy did not slow her down. In fact, it just may have made the fierce competitor even more determined. In just her second year, she claimed two tour titles, finished runner-up twice and was on her way to stardom. She won the Mixed Doubles Championship at the U.S. Open and broke into the top fifty. Victoria had arrived and people took notice.
2008 was a bit more difficult. Victoria forged her way into the top twenty with no singles crowns but on the back of very consistent play. She reached the fourth round at Roland Garros. More importantly, she was losing to the right players and winning matches she was favored to win.
In 2009, her dazzling power seemed to intensify. Having recovered nicely from knee surgery, Victoria seemed stronger than ever. She took dead aim at some of the tour’s beauty queens and one-by-one moved up the ladder, reaching the top ten early in the year. Azarenka rode a 24-2 start to climb to number 7. Now everyone’s eyes were open. She would no longer surprise opponents. She was favored in most matches and competitive in all.
But, her runner-up finish in Paris, third round appearances at Melbourne and London were disappointments. Along with success came expectations. And the fans now mimicked her grunt. Distractions began to mount.
Her fast start gained her the Brisbane title, the Memphis title and the prestigious Miami title before March had ended. Toward the end of the year, she seemed fatigued and less consistent and, frankly, a littler annoyed. She suffered some disappointing knockouts.
Coach Sam Sumyk certainly found the key in the off season. Victoria stormed out of the gates at Melbourne and had eventual winner Serena Williams on the ropes in the semis. Her runner-up position in Dubai was a solid performance, but she came up short against Venus Williams. Her career won-lost record stands at an impressive 193-88.
One of these days, and probably sooner rather than later, Victoria is going to finish a match against one of the Williams girls. Then, watch out. This woman is moving north on the ladder and with the inconsistent play of Safina (2), Wozniacki (4) and even Kuznetsova (3) seems the more troublesome opponent. We look for Victoria to reach the finals at Indian Wells. This just may be her coming out party.
|Birth Date||July 31, 1989 (20)|
|Year Turned Pro||2006|
|Current Rank – Singles||6|
|Current Rank – Doubles||16|
|Career Prize Earnings||$3.896,189|
|Year-To- Date – Earnings||$385,892|
|Grand Slam (Singles)||0|
|Australian Open||Semis – 2010|
|Grand Slam Doubles||2 Runner-up|
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